A 2WD Hybrid-Electric Motorcycle for the US Military?

In the coming years, US special forces may be riding a tw0-wheel drive, hybrid-electric, multi-fuel motorcycle co-developed by BRD Motorcycles and Logos Technologies. Helping make this project possible is a Small Business Innovation Research grant from DARPA. The goal is to make a single-track vehicle for US expeditionary and special forces that will be nearly silent in operation, yet also capable of traveling long distances. Details on the proposed machine are light, of course, but it sounds like the 2WD dirt bike will be based off the BRD RedShift MX (shown above), and use an electric drivetrain, as well as a multi-fuel internal combustion engine to achieve its goals.

Colin Edwards Will Retire from Racing after 2014 Season

Announcing his decision during the pre-event press conference for the Red Bull Grand Prix of the Americas, Colin Edwards told the assembled press that 2014 would be the Texan’s last season racing a motorcycle. Citing a lack of improvement on his performance in pre-season testing and at the Qatar GP, Edwards decision perhaps answers the lingering question in the paddock of when the American rider would hang-up his spurs after an illustrious career in AMA, WSBK and MotoGP. Talking about his inability to come to terms with the Forward Yamaha, which Aleix Espargaro was able to take to the front of the pack in Qatar, Edwards was at a loss when it came to understanding the Open Class machine and his lack of results.

MSF Updates Its Basic RiderCourse Curriculum

It is no surprise that statistics from the NHTSA show that motorcycle accidents and injuries are on the rise. According to the 2012 Motor Vehicle Crash report published by the NHTSA, motorcycle fatalities for that year rose to 4,957, up seven percent from 2011, while injuries increased 15% to 93,000. While the NHTSA statistics are misleading because the motorcycle category includes mopeds, scooters, three-wheelers, pocket bikes, mini bikes, and off-road vehicles, new riders need every advantage they can afford. The Motorcycle Safety Foundation has taken notice of these statistics and has revised the curriculum for its Basic RiderCourse to include a new Basic eCourse, which students will take prior to in-person instruction.

Yamaha Trademarks “R1S” & “R1M” at USPTO – “YZF-R1M” Trademarked Abroad – But Why?

Are new Yamaha YZF-R1 models coming down the pipe? That’s the question being asked after trademark filings in the US and abroad tipped off Yamaha Motor’s intention to use “R1S”, “R1M”, and “YZF-R1M” for motorcycle, scooter, and three-wheeled purposes. The filings are being taken as hints towards a possible multiple trim levels of the Yamaha YZF-R1 superbike, with the “S” and “M” designations being different spec machines than the current base model. The “S” nomenclature is a popular one in the two and four-wheeled world, though “M” would certainly be a novel designation, outside of say…BMW.

Bell & COTA Create Texas-Themed Limited-Edition Helmet

Continuing its theme of making limited-edition helmets for premier-class US rounds, Bell Helmets has teamed up with the Circuit of the Americas and Chris Wood, of Airtrix, to create a Texas-themed Bell Star Carbon helmet, just in time for COTA’s MotoGP race next weekend. Available only until April 13th, the Bell/COTA helmet features a red, white, and blue flag motif on the front, with both the American and State of Texas flags visible, which then wrap around the rear to merge with a hardwood design, reminiscent of the floorboards in a Western saloon. The helmet is also crowned with a Longhorn cattle skull, which adds to the Texan motif. The specially designed helmet also features a horseshoe, the COTA logo, and the 2014 Red Bull MotoGP of The Americas logo.

Aprilia Mounting a Return to MotoGP in 2016

Towards the end of the 800cc era, MotoGP looked to be in dire condition. Grids were dwindling, factories were reducing their participation, and teams were in difficult financial straits indeed. By the end of 2011, there were just 17 full time entries, Suzuki was down to a single rider, and were about to pull out entirely for 2012. How different the situation looks today. In a recent interview with the official MotoGP.com website, Aprilia Corse’s new boss Romano Albesiano gave a brief outline of their plans. The Italian factory will continue to work with the IODA Racing team for 2014 to collect data on the electronics and tires, which they will use as input on an entirely new project being worked on for 2016.

This Is Pretty Much What the Monster 800 Will Look Like

With the advent of the Ducati Monster 1200, it was only a matter of time before Ducati’s middleweight liquid-cooled “Monster 800″ would be spotted, and unsurprisingly the machines have a great deal in common. The one big difference seems to be that the 821cc Monster gets a double-sided swingarm, which has become Ducati’s new way of differentiating between its big and medium displacement models of the same machine, see entry for Ducati 899 Panigale. With the spied Ducati Monster 800 looking ready for primetime, and a pre-fall launch isn’t out of the question. Giving us an excellent glimpse into what the Ducati Monster 800 would look like, Luca Bar has again used his Photoshop skills to render up images of the still unreleased “baby” Monster.

Photos of the Mugen Shinden Ni sans Fairings

Given the competitive nature of the electric racing realm, its rare to see the big high-power bikes without their fairings, as teams are reluctant to reveal their secret sauce. Debuting the Mugen Shinden San this past weekend in Tokyo though, Team Mugen did just that, giving us a glimpse into the inner workings of the team’s 2013 race bike, the Mugen Shinden Ni. You don’t have to be an electron-head to get excited by these photos, as any race bike with a carbon fiber frame and swingarm is pretty drool-worthy, though the Shinden Ni’s carbon fiber battery enclosure does hide a great deal of the electric superbike’s geek factor. While the sheer size of the battery bike is impressive, it was expected when the Shinden was first announced.

Mugen Shinden San (神電 参) Electric Superbike Revealed

Mugen’s third purpose-built electric superbike for the Isle of Man TT, the Mugen Shinden San, has been revealed in Japan. Campaigning two machines for this year’s TT Zero race, Mugen has John McGuiness and Bruce Anstey at the helm of its “Shinden San” bikes, as the duo looks for a one-two finish in this year’s race. With MotoCzysz not racing at the Isle of Man this year, Mugen is a hot favorite to take the top podium spots, as well as crack the 110 mph barrier for electrics on the historic Snaefell Mountain Course (Mugen is targeting a 115 mph lap). An evolution on the company’s previous designs, the Shinden San fits 134hp — 10hp more than last year, thanks to a new smaller three-phase brushless motor provided by Mission Motors — into its 529lbs bulk.

Trackside Tuesday: The Winning Personality of Jack Miller

Chatting with a couple of NASCAR fans recently, I was reminded that any competition is boring if you don’t care who wins. But if you do care, then even cars driving around in circles can be very compelling entertainment. Those NASCAR fans really cared about how their favorite drivers finished, and not only how they finished in the latest race, but what and how those drivers were doing off the track as well. Those fans had been captured by the personalities of those drivers. One of the things NASCAR does well is sell personalities. All major sports-related businesses do this to some extent, but some organizations do it better than others.

Is Yamaha Using A Seamless Gearbox? The Data Says No

05/04/2013 @ 2:57 pm, by David Emmett17 COMMENTS

Is Yamaha Using A Seamless Gearbox? The Data Says No yamaha yzr m1 motogp valentino rossi dry clutch 635x421

Ask Jorge Lorenzo if there is one thing which the Yamaha needs to allow him to compete with the Hondas, and he will tell you it is a seamless gearbox. The system used by HRC on the Honda RC213V allows the riders to shift gear while the bike is still leaned over, without upsetting the machine. It is an important factor in the Honda’s better drive out of corners, as Dani Pedrosa, Marc Marquez, Stefan Bradl, and Alvaro Bautista can shift gear earlier and make optimum use of the rev range to accelerate harder.

That Yamaha is working on a seamless gearbox is no secret, with Yamaha’s test riders currently racking up the kilometers around tracks in Japan, testing the reliability of the maintenance-intensive system to the limit before using it in a race. Recently, however, Spanish magazine SoloMoto published an article suggesting that Yamaha has already been using its new seamless gearbox since the beginning of the season.

In evidence, the magazine pointed to an apparent difference in fuel consumption between the factory Yamahas and the satellite bike of Cal Crutchlow. While both Cal Crutchlow and Valentino Rossi made mistakes at Qatar, only Rossi was able to recover, and then battle with Marc Marquez for the podium. The theory put forward by SoloMoto was that the smoother transition between gears gave both better drive and lower fuel consumption, as the ignition is cut for a much shorter period, wasting less of the limited gasoline the MotoGP bikes are allowed.

My own enquiries to check whether Yamaha was using a seamless gearbox or not always received the same answer: no, Yamaha is not using the seamless gearbox. The reason given was simple: with Jorge Lorenzo defending his title and Valentino Rossi in the race for the championship, they simply cannot afford to have a single DNF down to a mechanical failure of the new-fangled seamless gearbox. The risks involved were just too great, especially when taking the reduction in engine allowance into account, with just five engines allowed all season, down from six in 2012.

To test this denial, I went out to the side of the track on Friday morning at Jerez to record the bikes as they went by. I sat at the exit of Turn 10, Peluqui, and recorded the bikes as they accelerated towards Turn 11. It is a spot where they change gear once, before braking briefly for Turn 11 and then powering on to Turn 12 and the final short straight and hairpin.

Once I had enough recordings, I analyzed the sound clips in Audacity, an open source audio software package, measuring the length of time the gear changes last. Given enough samples, it is a relatively simple task, as the point at which the ignition is cut is clear from the audio (see screenshots below).

I put those timings into a spreadsheet, and then averaged them, both for each rider, and for the Yamaha and the Honda as well. Below are the times I registered for Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo on the factory Yamahas, and Stefan Bradl and Marc Marquez on the Hondas. Both the LCR Honda of Bradl and Marquez’ Repsol Honda use Honda’s seamless transition.

Honda Gear Change Recording:

Is Yamaha Using A Seamless Gearbox? The Data Says No honda gear change time motogp

Yamaha Gear Change Recording:

Is Yamaha Using A Seamless Gearbox? The Data Says No yamaha gear change time motogp

Length of gear change, in seconds:

Rossi Lorenzo Bradl Marquez
0.043 0.038 0.008 0.012
0.042 0.032 0.008 0.006
0.038 0.031 0.007 0.014
0.043 0.007
Average 0.042 0.034 0.008 0.010

Averages for the Honda and the Yamaha:

Yamaha Honda Difference
0.038 0.009 -0.029

What is clear from the timings is that the Yamaha is still significantly slower in changing gears than the Honda. The Yamaha takes an average of around 38 milliseconds, while the Honda takes just 9 milliseconds, a difference of nearly three hundredths of a second.

These results are nearly identical to the results I found when I first checked the data at Qatar back in 2011, when it became clear that Honda was using the seamless gearbox.

So what conclusion can we draw from this data? It seems clear to me that Yamaha are not using a seamless gearbox just yet, and that Wilco Zeelenberg was telling the truth when he denied to me that Yamaha were not using it.

The data from the sound clips is almost irrefutable, as the length of time each gear change is taking is almost the same as it was two years’ ago. If I am wrong, and Yamaha are using a seamless gearbox, then it is not a particularly good one.

What is clear from both the sound recordings and standing trackside is that the electronics package has been modified to handle gear changes better. Where once  each gear change was accompanied by an enormous bang, as fuel hitting the hot exhaust exploded, that noise has been greatly reduced.

Less fuel is being wasted in those gear changes, for certain. But a new electronics package does not a seamless gearbox make. The Yamaha riders will have to wait.

Photo: © 2013 Jensen Beeler / Asphalt & Rubber – Creative Commons – Attribution 3.0

This article was originally published on MotoMatters, and is republished here on Asphalt & Rubber with permission by the author.


  1. Gutterslob says:

    9 milliseconds?!! That’s sick!!
    Even Formula 1 gearboxes are said to take between 10-15 milliseconds, and that’s supposed to be the pinnacle of motorsport engineering.

    So when do we get one included in a Fireblade?

  2. MikeD says:

    Haaa. . . Interesting, to say the least.

    I sure could use one of those on my MUCH MUCH MUCH slower/under powered SV1000N…since nature and evolution are not giving me those 2 extra arms i keep wishing i had every time i truly get on it to hold on for dear life.


  3. MikeD says:

    P.S: I can’t power shift, my motor skills are only enough for “sane” riding…LMAO.

  4. Dave says:

    F1 gear changes are mandated by the rules. They have to have several milliseconds between changes. Otherwise they would have had a F1 version of a CVT years ago.

  5. MikeD says:

    Otherwise they would have had a F1 version of a CVT years ago.

    That made my night…ROTFLMAO.

  6. Norm G. says:

    re: “The reason given was simple: with Jorge Lorenzo defending his title and Valentino Rossi in the race for the championship, they simply cannot afford to have a single DNF down to a mechanical failure of the new-fangled seamless gearbox. The risks involved were just too great”

    ironically, this is all the information i’ve needed to repeatedly make the call that they (yamaha) weren’t using a seamless box. no recordings, no software, and no interviews. Occam’s Razor is good for a 99% strike rate.

  7. jzj says:

    Excellent detective work.

  8. TexusTim says:

    I wonder if they have tried them (rossi & lorenzo) at any of the tracks this year ? maybe rossi used it in qatar that might have been a safe enough race to try it or at least on friday or saturday. you have to think in negotating a come back that subject had to come up…..”you give me one soon or I go back to honda”….lol

  9. Dave says:

    Great to see someone backing up opinion with real data – a rare breed these days.

  10. orang keren says:

    Honda is full of wonders

  11. Boztich says:

    About the fuel consumption.. Valentino got the same problem this time like in 2010 when he was going to the pits after goal. He went out of fuel even this time.

  12. Stevenk27 says:

    As Dave said, it’s great to see the real data to back up the story.
    Not many journo’s out there are willing to do that, merely posting stories for the sake of posting them.

    For me I find it amazing that 29hundreths of a second can be the difference between being truly competitive or having to fight for a win, that coming from Lorenzo who is already competitive although it must be demoralizing seeing those Hondas pulling a few bike lengths out of every corner.
    Thats why I can’t stand it when people downplay Lorenzo’s achievements, just because he occassionally blitzes the opposition and wins a faultless race comfortably without having to mix it and run any risks.
    If I were the opposition I would be very afraid that Yamaha get the seamless gearbox right because then catching Lorenzo will be quite a feat.

  13. New Zealand Dan says:

    Honda will demand changes to the rules once Yamaha have their seamless box sorted and ready.

  14. Norm G. says:

    re: “Honda will demand changes to the rules once Yamaha have their seamless box sorted and ready.”

    more like ducati and the CPT (claiming poverty teams) will petition for the technology to be banned. it’s not plug and play, costs a mint to DIY, and this with no gaurantees of increased performance when you’re done signing the checks.

    honda is the only who could afford to make this kind of risky investment and had already began the R&D back when they were stll in F1 (geez how long ago was that?). in fact, i only give yamaha 50/50 odds they’ll even make good…? it’s not a foregone conclusion that they will. we just like to THINK they will.

    unless they’re willing (and have the ability) to come off the dime, their efforts could easily end up sitting on a dusty shelf in back storage same as ducati’s.

  15. Norm G. says:

    ooh wait, i just realized NZ dan, honda owes you kiwis a debt of graititude. if it weren’t for you guys, their tx wouldn’t exist…! lol

  16. smiler says:

    Now that Honda are going back into F1 then the tech transfer will be even greater? What about a 1.6 turbo F1 engine in a Pan or Gold Wing? And take the MotoGP box with them.

    Interesting article and facts at hand too.